I’ve begun coaching clients with ADD/ADHD. ADD/ADHD is a chronic, neurobiological condition that create affects behavior and performance. One aspect of its challenge is that it affects a person’s ability to be self-aware–to watch what they do that causes them difficulties with time management, taking actions, completing actions, follow through, and consistently performing tasks, even very important tasks. In other words, their brains are wired in such a way that impairs self-awareness.
Why is self-awareness important? Until you are aware of what you are doing and how your behavior affects you and others, it’s impossible to change behaviors. Some people are very clear that they have problems with followthrough, are always late, can’t get going especially when faced with boring tasks to do, etc. But, their first tendency is to judge themselves harshly, effectively shutting down self-awareness. Why would anyone want to observe their behaviors if what they notice are multiple challenges?
If you have ADD/ADHD or suspect that you have that brain-based condition, a great way to practice self-awareness is to watch your behavior as an interested observer who is curious about how your ADD/ADHD shows up. But, be sure to suspend judgment as you observe. Just notice where you struggle and what causes the struggle. Also notice where you shine and excel. What makes that possible?
In effect when you watch yourself you’ll be stepping outside yourself to observe what you do. What do you notice? Are you always late because you have trouble transitioning from one activity to another? Or, is it because you underestimate how long it will take to do a task? Is followthrough difficult because you have no way to keep tasks top of mind? When are you most likely to be distracted from important tasks?
Deliberately practicing self-awareness with interest and compassion could be an important first step to finding ways of addressing problem behaviors associated with ADD/ADHD.